smallpox virus release

Sheri Moreau sheri at
Wed Jul 21 13:51:58 EDT 1999

Sorry, Jacob, but I could not even begin to agree that Dr. Brower's
suggestion that releasing smallpox virus within the human population is an
appropriate analogy to the effects of Ophryocystis electroschirra in
Once again, individuals who (IMHO) should know better are attempting to
weld patterns of disease pathology (and migration) from the vertebrate
world to the invertebrate world. The comparison is, quite simply, specious.
The idea, I gather, is to use an example the average, marginally educated
human can relate to (smallpox/passenger pigeons) and then to say with
alarmist intonation: "Look! This could happen to the butterflies!!"
I say, "Ptoeey. Give us a break--and quit insulting our intelligence."
What I'd really like to see is the entomologists and population
statisticians comparing apples to apples for a change:  What's the success
rate of eliminating the gypsy moth? the cabbage white? the various
"cutworms" of the Lepidoptera order in our orchards and fields? Locusts??
Cockroaches?? Termites??? My buddleia are covered in microlep larvae, and
for the third year in a row the plants are unable to flower. What viral
pathogen can I release to eliminate these beasties and not harm any other
"desirable" lep???
Certainly, populations of restricted range, geographically isolated, and/or
specialist feeding species can be easily eliminated with habitat
destruction (Xerces Blue), etc.
Serious question for the entomologists here: Has there ever been a single
species of widely distributed, generalist feeding insect eliminated anywhere??
Sheri Moreau
<sheri at>

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